How to find the best Pilates teacher in your area, and how to avoid the rest.

A physiotherapist does not inherently possess the skills to teach. A fitness instructor will not inherently understand. 

As a teacher of teachers I travel interstate to share my knowledge and to create strong, informed communities of Pilates professionals. I meet such amazing, inspiring educators everywhere I go. The level of expertise is refreshing, the desire to learn and do good by our industry is humbling and everywhere I go there are pockets of studios who are paving the way for a bright future for Pilates.

But, in the shadows of the light we shine, I see darkness. And there is an undercurrent of disdain, a quiet conversation being spoken behind closed doors of these studios who put every cent back in to their own success but who are prodded by those who use our name for their own benefit with no respect for what we do.

I am talking about those who use the word Pilates behind ‘clinical’ or ‘fitness’. My gripe with this is that Pilates is Pilates. The exercises we choose for our students are appropriate for them whether they are injured, in pain, pregnant, cross training for a marathon or looking to improve their overall health. Pilates is for everyone. And our expertise as Pilates teachers means that we have the skills, the education and the understanding of movement that we can put together a Pilates program appropriate for the body we are presented with.

Pilates is not meant to be ‘prescribed’ in a clinical setting. Nor is is meant to be taught haphazardly to 15 people bouncing around on a machine to music so loud they can not hear any instruction. Pilates is a system of movement and includes many aspects including breathe, awareness, control, timing and correct execution of movement taught with precision and care, with a deep understanding of joint placement, alignment and whole body integration for optimum performance and efficiency of movement.

Clinical or fitness classes are missing the point. They have taken one part of what we do and created a sub standard option for people who are either attending only because they can claim private health or are not prepared to pay full price. As a result they are receiving a service that calls itself something that it is not.

Beware the wolf in sheeps clothing.

“Concentrate on the correct movement each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all vital benefits.”

– Joseph Pilates

The thing is, these charlatans are everywhere. In the food industry there is fast food and there is whole food. One will eventually kill you, while the other one can heal you. These charlatans exist in every industry, under many guises. One of my teachers is also a landscaper and he likens it to customers employing a gardener to do a landscapers job and then wondering why the irrigation system doesn’t work. Usually it comes down to what the customer wants to pay or what they perceive the job to be. In housing you employ an architect to design the house, a builder to craft the frame and a bricklayer to build the walls. If you asked those guys to do the others job you’d end up with a pretty sub standard house at best.

Pilates is Pilates. I would not ask a physio to teach me Pilates any more than I would ask my Pilates teacher for diagnosis or manual therapy. I would not expect a personal trainer to teach me Pilates any more than I would ask my Pilates teacher to offer boot camp.

Pilates takes hundreds of hours of specific training to understand the method as it applies to the individual. And that is only the beginning. Pilates is a stand alone career. Of course a physio or a personal trainer may enrol in a Pilates teacher training course to learn how to teach Pilates and this would be a wonderful add on to their specialised skills. This is not a weekend course or a course only open to physiotherapists. This is a course recognised by the Pilates industry bodies and set to certain standards.

Why does this bother me so much? Because I see clinical practitioners and fitness franchises teaching their version of Pilates and it is bad for the industry because their quality of teaching is so poor which then dampens the public perception of what Pilates truly is. They call it ‘clinical’ or ‘fitness’ but it is absolutely, definitely not Pilates. It bothers me that we spend so many hours as Pilates teachers, so many years, so much money on making sure we are upholding the Pilates name to the best of our ability for the sake of not only our industry but more so for the sake of those who seek out Pilates for its known benefits including injury care, injury prevention, disease management and sporting excellence. A Pilates teacher is all of these. A physiotherapist does not inherently possess the skills to teach. A fitness instructor will not inherently understand. A Pilates teacher has a specific skill set and through education, training and dedication as with any craft, a true teacher continues to master their skills over the life of their career.

Pilates is not clinical.

Pilates is not fitness.

Pilates is Pilates is Pilates.

9 ways to create a strong, sustainable, recognised Pilates industry in your community.

  • Get rid of any staff or services who do not support your vision or meet your standards.
  • Join one of the Pilates industry bodies in your location (APMA or PAA in Australia, PMA in the USA) and encourage all of your staff to do the same.
  • Find the best practitioners in your area to refer to for allied practices and build positive relationships with them (Physiotherapy, Chiropractor, Osteopath, Acupuncture, Massage)
  • Host teacher training and workshops recognised by your industry body at your studio so that you are seen as an industry leader in your area. *Email me if you are looking to host a workshop. I offer courses that are highly regarded and are accredited by APMA and PAA in Australia.
  • Specialise in what you are good at rather than try and be a jack of all trades. Raise the barre for Pilates studios in your area.
  • Offer information sessions to medical clinics and allied therapists in your area so that they better understand who are the Pilates professionals in your community and know when to refer to you.
  • Be brave and stand up for what you believe in. Build your business with heart and do not feel at the mercy of others. (this one took me a long time to master).
  • Remember why you do what you do and never give up… hint, it’s not about the $$
  • Join our community group on Facebook and meet other Pilates teachers doing awesome work.

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